Paul Hayden Kirk. Photographer Unknown
I am working with Grant Hildebrand to help him realize the story of the Northwest architect Paul Hayden Kirk (1914-1995). I came to know Grant through my father-in-law, Gordon Walker, who was the subject of Grant’s most recent publication: Gordon Walker A Poetic Architecture (July 2019). I helped Grant realize that publication, and developed a deep respect and admiration for his scholarship and profound understanding of the history and profession of architecture and design.
Grant Hildebrand holds the Governor’s Writer’s Award for work of literary merit and lasting value. He has been planning, implementing, and managing his Paul Hayden Kirk and the Project Sound School book project, assisted by the superb photographer and architect Andrew van Leeuwen, and Robert Terrell, who is the last survivor of Kirk’s office, and who worked with Kirk as he created his greatest works. Having been with the office from 1960 to 1980, Terrell’s assistance is invaluable, and he has enthusiastically offered his knowledge, insight, and critique.
Grant Hildebrand is a University of Washington Professor Emeritus in Architecture and Art History, and a registered architect with experience in a range of buildings, including the World Trade Center during his employment by the Yamasaki firm from 1960 to 1964. His books include:
· Designing for Industry (MIT 1974)
· The Wright Space (UW 1991)
· Origins of Architectural Pleasure (Cal Berkeley, 1999, trans. into Chinese 2008)
· A Thriving Modernism (with T. William Booth, UW, 2004)
· Frank Lloyd Wright’s Palmer House (UW 2007)
· A Greek Temple in French Prairie (w/Miriam Sutermeister,
Society of Architectural Historians, 2008)
· Suyama: A Complex Serenity (Marquand, UW 2011)
· Gene Zema, Architect-Craftsman (UW 2011)
· An Unusual Philanthropist: The Legacy of Floyd Udell Jones (Horizon House, 2017)
· Gordon Walker, A Poetic Architecture (Marquand, ARCADE, UW, 2019)
Paul Hayden Kirk and the Project Sound School will be completed to this standard.
University of Washington Faculty Center (Club), Seattle, WA, 1960. Photo by Andrew van Leeuwen
From 1951 through the 1970s, Kirk created an architecture important in itself, and important as an inspiration to his regional colleagues. His work was of a quality unsurpassed in America, perhaps the world, but his story, and that of the group for whom he was patriarch, remain little known.
For those who are familiar with Kirk’s buildings, Hildebrand hopes to increase their understanding of the work, and that of his compatriots. Additionally, and for those more distant from that work, he would like to provide a deeper understanding of architecture in general, how buildings are designed, how they are built, and how the ways they are built may bear on the way they look. Hildebrand’s hope is that in these ways the book might make that small difference in the lives of those who encounter it. Hildebrand has written about several architects for whom Kirk was the patriarch, and has now made it a priority to write the story of the patriarch. It is a formidable job, as Kirk is responsible for hundreds of buildings, and his followers for many more. The most significant of them must be identified, and the reasons for their significance clearly described. That done, Paul Kirk’s architecture, with that of the Puget Sound School, will take its proper place in the story of American architecture.
Magnolia Branch Library, Seattle Public Libraries, Seattle, WA, 1962. Photo by Andrew van Leeuwen
In 1980 the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architects assembled a retrospective of Paul Hayden Kirk’s work and that of those he influenced. Philip Johnson, the most renowned and respected architectural critic of the time, was invited to comment. He studied photographs and visited several of the buildings; he said he was amazed at their magnificence, and was unaware that they existed. Four decades later that work is still little known, yet locally and nationally the quality of Kirk’s achievements is unsurpassed.
It was an architecture of small buildings—houses, professional offices, clinics, a church, a neighborhood library, a university faculty center, a few buildings of other types. Most were one or two stories in height, none was more than three. Most American buildings of that scale have been built of wood, but for Kirk, and the colleagues he inspired, it was the defining feature. It was their material of choice for interior and exterior surfaces, and for the uniquely designed exposed structures that distinguish their architecture. The book will illustrate and analyze several examples by Kirk’s compatriots that, because of the geographic limits of their accomplishments, Hildebrand calls the Puget Sound School. It will give primary emphasis to Kirk’s own achievements by presenting and analyzing the University Unitarian Church, the Magnolia Branch Library, the Bloedel Reserve Guest House on Bainbridge Island, Kirk’s own office, and twenty of his other most significant projects.
The book will be designed by Seattle’s Lucia Marquand , which is a small shop that develops, designs, and produces books with museums, artists, creative professionals, publishers, and collectors. 100% of donations will be used for the design, production, printing and shipping of the book.
10% Editorial management, typesetting and proofreading
37% Printing and binding
IMPORTANCE OF THIS CAUSE
Grant Hildebrand is writing this book for a professional audience, but he hopes to reach a lay audience, too, so he will explain words and ideas that hold specific architectural meanings, either in the text itself or in a glossary, and will work to avoid all jargon; he wants the book to be readable. In deepening the professional’s understanding of the work, Hildebrand intends to present the idea that Kirk’s work may be as important now as when it was built. Kirk and his compatriots designed for the Douglas fir and red cedar that are no longer abundant; engineered woods have replaced them, and in doing so have made possible wood buildings of a scale unthinkable in Kirk’s time. Yet today’s expressive possibilities are not unlike those of Kirk’s time. His expressive means, and those of the Puget Sound School, have something to say to today’s designers. In deepening the lay audience’s understanding of the subject work, Hildebrand seeks to enlarge their appreciation, their enjoyment, their affection—to contribute to the “visibility of heritage” in the Pacific Northwest.
Thank you for considering this project. We're so grateful for your support, and look forward to sharing Paul Hayden Kirk's legacy with you.
University Unitarian Church, Seattle, WA, 1959. Photo by Andrew van Leeuwen
Kirk, Wallace, McKinley & Associates office, Seattle, WA, 1960. Photo by Andrew van Leeuwen